Monday, September 26, 2016

DAILY the roosters in your life

Peter's denial of Jesus did not happen slowly, but within an hour. An hour had passed from the time the first person said, "You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean," to the time Peter made his second denial.

"A curse on me if I'm lying, I do not know that man!" And immediately the rooster crowed." (Matthew 26:74)

He had ample opportunity to hightail it out of there, but Peter chose to remain in this situation. This reminds me of how no one is safe from temptation, except the one who chooses to run from it. Peter should have ran.

Jesus had warned Peter, if he had listened he would have steered clear of any and all roosters after Jesus had mentioned one. Too many people have compromised their standards by standing too close to a rooster.

People like Solomon. And Samson. Even David. They all found out the hard way. Roosters come in different shapes and sizes, we all need to be careful and heed the warning that God gives:

"Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Peter found himself to be around people who were dragging him down spiritually. Are you in a similar situation today? Are you finding yourself compromising your faith and beliefs because of the influence of others?

Be careful who you allow to influence you. Stand watch and flee if necessary; before the rooster crows.


Friday, September 23, 2016

DAILY DEVO...why do bad things happen to good people?

As Pastors, I would say that the #1 question we are asked is, "why do bad things happen to good people?"

If you are experiencing some bad things in your life, it does not mean you are not a good person! Just yesterday I received 3 messages from 3 different people asking for prayer over bad situations in their life.

Bad things happen. Believe me if any of us could choose, none of us would include in our day a flat tire, or getting sick or a terrible crisis in our family. Oh no, instead we would choose promotions at work, no traffic jams, green lights all the way, no problems, no worries...just clear sailing.

But it just so happens that we are not in charge. Oh sure we can choose when to leave the house and where to eat lunch but God is in charge of everything in-between.

I love what Jeremiah once admitted to the Lord...

"O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." (Jeremiah 10:23)

Jeremiah recognized that his steps were not ordered by man but by God. I do not know why God allows the so called "bad stuff" to happen in our lives but I do know that for me, the significant life lessons usually don't come from the mountaintop. Instead, the greatest lessons come from heartache, pain and difficulties.

Today if you are surrounded by bad things, I want to remind you that these are not just some random things; these are specific times and events that God wants to use to strengthen us and perhaps stretch us to lean upon Him.

We are weak but He is strong! Lean upon God and watch how He turns your bad into something good.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

DAY DEVO..making the right choice

Every day we hear about people who make a wrong choice. Just turn on the local news and hear about fraud, murder, and deception. It's really sad that so many people have lost their way and seem to have lost the idea of what the right thing is.

Often, doing the right thing is not always the easiest or most popular thing to do. Society suggests it’s okay to tell little white lies, fudge the numbers, and break commitments. While these actions may make life easier, they lead to the breaking of our integrity.

Doing the right thing is not limited to Christianity. We all were taught right from wrong at a very early age. Doing what is right is within all of us. But something in-between then and now has gone wrong.

So what can we do when doing the right thing is not applauded by others? DO THE RIGHT THING.

"For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)

What others do should not be our standard. What others say should not be our standard. Our standard is Jesus!

Jesus did the right thing with tons of naysayers looking on. When He was brought before Pilate, Jesus could easily of denied who He was but instead He faced the consequences of death.

And for what? For our sin!

His grace and His example is what strengthens us to do right. Do the right thing to please God, not man.

Even when others don't do right; you do! Because you can never go wrong by doing the right thing.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DAILY DEVO...your life is a story!

Have you ever considered that your life is a story, a story worth telling others about?

I enjoy writing. If I were to write about my life, the general points would probably bore you to death. Sure, being married to my high school sweetheart for 35 years is worthy to mention and being a mom, a daughter and a sister could generate a few stories, but is that all there is to tell?

Our life story cannot just be made up of cliff notes; where we work, where we live and who we marry. All of that is important but the stories of our life come from everything that is entangled around those things.

The pain. The joy. The disappointments. The ups. The downs. And all the in betweens.

"Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story-- those He redeemed from the hand of the foe." (Psalm 107:2)

Perhaps somewhere along the course of your life, someone made you feel like your story didn't matter. I assure you for each season, for every chapter lived, God has been penning your wonderful, unique story to be told.

When I see someone who is disgruntled, sad or over the top giddy, I think to myself, "they must have a story".  Everyone has a story to tell, who knows, you and I just might be sitting on the next best seller!

Like any great story, it's only a good read if the reader can connect with the writer. God wants to use all of your story: the joy, the pain, and all the pages in between. So find the essence of your story and share it with someone.

I'm confident it will be a good read.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

DAILY DEVO...can I depend on you?

My study last night with our youth took us into a discussion of what it is like to have a friend who is unreliable.

No doubt all of us at one time or another have been let down because people can disappoint us all of the time. People say one thing but do something else. We all have that friend that said he would come help  but never showed up.

During our youth round table discussion, we determined that anyone can fall, including ourselves, into becoming that unreliable person. Making promises that we can't keep.

Thankfully that is not the case with God. We can be assured that God's word is His Word! The Word of God over and over  declares that God does what He says He will do...

"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

God is faithful and true, totally trustworthy. And if we are to strive to be like Christ, we too should show ourselves to be dependable. The Bible says for our "yes" to be yes and our "no" to be no. Anything less will leave us to be considered wishy washy or unreliable.

If Jesus is the One friend we can rely on, where does that leave us, can I depend on you?


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DAILY DEVO...are you good enough?


Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try, your “good” is just never good enough? No matter how high you jump, it’s not high enough?

These feelings of unworthiness can creep up on us out of nowhere and sometimes the feelings of never measuring up comes at the hand of others speaking it over us.

It is very important that we deal with these emotions in a healthy way so that it doesn't mess us up. I know first hand that when we begin to listen to voices that say we aren't enough, it begins to feel like we are carrying a bag of bricks on our back, weighing us down.

I felt like that not long ago, it seemed no matter how hard I tried, to this particular persons mind and eye, I could never be good enough. They already had me marked and no amount of words or acts could change their view. Not realizing that the bricks they carried now were on my back. It was difficult for me to stand straight up because of the baggage that now weighed me down, the lie that I wasn't good enough was now on me to carry.

Or was it?

Not any more, I've come to realize since then that God is not like man. I don't have to show Him my works to be good enough. I don't have to be the smartest, jump the highest, or be the prettiest to receive His perfect love. I don't have to try to be good enough for Him; I just need to be myself. Be who He created me to be.

The fact is, none of us will ever be good enough for people, we will stumble and fall because none of us are perfect. While we cannot be good enough for each other, finding our worth in Christ alone is where we will see that Gods grace, love and forgiveness IS enough!

If you are telling others that they are not good enough...STOP IT!

If you believe when others say that you are not good enough...STOP IT!

 "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God." (2 Corinthians 3:5)

Our worth is in Christ and that alone makes us good enough!


Friday, September 9, 2016

Daily Devo...speak life not death

Mean girls (and boys). I've been studying and reading about this topic for my upcoming youth series I'm planning to do on bullying. One thing that I've learned, or I should say, I was reminded of because I did indeed already know this is: mean people say mean things!

Their words are like bullets, aimed for the weakest part of our hearts and emotions. I can recall moments of intentional rudeness aimed at me, when I was younger and even now as an adult. Words have such a lasting effect on us and when words are intended to hurt us, well that's just hard to swallow.

God gave each of us the power to say the same amount of words each day. Well, for women it is said they speak 20,000 words a day while men speak under 10,000. Our words have the power to give life or death. Unfortunately, some choose to use a portion of their daily allotment to be rude, disrespectful and just down right mean.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and erase all of the hurt that words have caused, but I can't. But I know Who can. God not only can change your heart but He can change that mean spirited person in your life. God don't like ugly now, so if you are that person speaking words of death upon someone...STOP!

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." (Song of Solomon 4:7)

God sees our beauty, even when we don't. Hurting people often can't see past their hurt, likewise mean people say hurtful things because they themselves are hurt about something.

How to handle the mean one in your family, at your church, in your classroom is to do what Jesus would do; see the beauty that lies under all that stuff and no matter what they do or say; choose life.

Speak words of life. 20,000 words a day: let's use them for good.

(Side note): this is going to be a great study coming up for our youth!! Pray with me for our young people who deal with bullies everyday at school. 🙏


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

DAILY DEVO...follow the recipe


A salsa is only as good as its ingredients. Avocado, diced tomatoes, onion, the list of ingredients goes on. Mix everything together, gather the chips, and dig in. But wait, something doesn't taste right, something is missing. As you examine the recipe you realize that salt and lime juice were not included in the recipe.

What a difference two ingredients can make. Likewise, God has given us a recipe for life and Peter encourages us to make every effort to include all the ingredients needed:

"Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

These eight ingredients combined will give us the kind of life God desires for us. Peter tells us the importance of following the recipe for life; "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today, ask God to take these ingredients and help you add them, little by little, to your own life’s recipe.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Put your sword down

This past weekend we went to see the movie “Ben Hur”. It is a classic movie, you might remember the one with Charleston Heston. This remake is just as good, with a gripping message.
The plot surrounds two brothers who because of choices and circumstances become at war with each other. The anger and unforgiveness is evident in the many scars that each brother acquires. However, when one brother sees the blood of Jesus, literally, he is changed and the battle that stirred up the two brothers differences no longer mattered.
I’ve not been able to get one particular scene out my head: Jacob Ben Hur approaches his brother who is maimed, laying on a stretcher, leg amputated; all because of him. His brother looks up at him and says, “You DID this to me”! With his sword in his hand, ready to give his brother what he deserves, something in the wind shifts. Ben Hur reaches out to his brother and says, “No more hate”.
Seemingly, it is the very thing that these two brothers needed. The sword is dropped and the two brothers are reconciled.
That my friend is what is wrong today. Too many swords are drawn and no one is willing to let theirs drop. Everyone is out for their own. It’s a dog eat dog world. We don’t talk to our neighbors because they crossed us. We sit on the other side of church because someone hurt us. Families are at odds because of offenses. Marriages split because of differences. Our country is divided because of race and beliefs. Instead of blaming others, we should be praying for others.
Jesus often had to deal with this matter with His disciples. Not only did they struggle with loving their enemies but they also had difficulty understanding that they must truly love their Christian brothers and sisters. Look at Peter; he wanted to limit the number of times forgiveness should be extended toward his brothers. He suggested to Jesus that forgiveness should be extended just 7 times.
But Jesus suggested that Peter’s sword be put down:
“I do not say to you seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)
If we were to be real with one another, we would have to admit that some people are easier to love. There are those certain people, even in church and in our families, that just rub us wrong. But Jesus did not say to love only those who make us feel good or give us lovey dovey goose bumps. As Jesus hung on the cross, bloody and beaten, He looked out among the crowd. He didn’t just see those crying out for Him, He looked out and saw His accusers and those mocking Him, spitting on Him and rejecting Him. Even so, He said, “Lord forgive them, they do not know what they do.”
When I examine my own relationships, I often see where we (including me), do not know what we do. Holding onto grudges. Refusing to forgive one another. Letting anger steal our joy. We keep our swords at arms length, ready to strike whoever crosses the line. I say it is time to drop our swords, and choose love and forgiveness. Like in the movie, Ben Bur, the scars still remained between two brothers but forgiveness set them free.
Jesus isn’t asking us to love and forgive our brothers, He commands it! Whatever wound you have that keeps you at war, drop your sword and receive the freedom that only comes from Christ.
PRAYER: “Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving me. I ask that you give me the power and strength to forgive my friends and enemies that come against me. As I forgive others, not only will it release me from self inflicting sword wounds but it will lead me closer to You. “AMEN.

Friday, September 2, 2016

DAILY DEVO...get back in the game


Have you ever found yourself slipping into a slump? From time to time athletes find themselves missing catches, running slower and just not performing their normal. Athletes hate being in a slump.

Christians should dislike slumps as well. Many athletes will do whatever it takes to get up from their state of defeat; they change their shoes or change their Gatorade flavor. Instead of staying down, they look for a change that could help them get back in the game.

We should do the same to get out of a spiritual slump that we find ourselves in. When those dry spells of feeling like our prayers are bouncing off the wall or reading our Bible seems more frustrating than a losing streak; it's time to change how we play the game.

David found himself in this position. In Psalm 13 you can see a slump came upon him...

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Psalm 13:2)

David could easily of felt sorry for himself and walked away, however, he knew what to do to work his way out. First, he appealed to God, then he trusted God and finally he worshipped God.

Slumps don't have to last, if you find yourself in a slump today, try changing your position. Seek God more than ever, trust Him completely and give Him praise no matter what your circumstances . Do all that you can to get back in the game.